Frequently Asked Questions

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What’s this I hear about a drought?

Drought FAQ


What is Drought? What does it mean to have “drought” conditions?

When an area or region experiences below-normal precipitation, it is said to be in “drought.” The lack of either rain or snow can cause reduced soil moisture or groundwater, diminished stream flow, crop damage, and a general water shortage. Droughts are the second-most costly weather events after hurricanes.*

What is the difference between weather and climate?

The term “weather” refers to the temporary conditions of the atmosphere and the atmospheric events that occur over a day or a short time. Weather is measured and described in days, hours, even minutes.

The term “climate” refers to a location’s weather over a longer period of time, and what is considered “normal” for that area.  Climate is associated with mankind’s expectations for the weather in a certain location.

How bad is the drought?

Countless researchers have determined that the western U.S. is experiencing the driest period in over 1,200 years.  Some have stated we can expect this drought to continue at least through 2030.

How is this affecting food availability and prices?

As the availability of water decreases, the cost to users increases.  Many farmers simply cannot afford to water their crops, so many are planting less and less. California is the largest producer of food in the United States, and the fifth largest supplier of food, cotton fiber and agricultural commodities in the world.  California is the nation’s sole producer (99 percent or more) of a large number of specialty crops including, but not limited to: almonds, artichokes, clingstone peaches, plums, figs, olives, persimmons, pomegranates, raisins, sweet rice, and walnuts.  Yet, more than 93% of California is considered to be in severe or extreme drought. This is naturally impacting the amount of food the state can produce and increasing the cost of food on the nation’s tables.

Just the Facts



  • It takes 1 gallon of water to grow one almond
  • To grow a pound of almonds requires 1,900 gallons of water
  • It takes double that amount to produce one pound of beef: 3,800 gallons
  • At the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, which helps Lake Powell supply Colorado River water for 7 states and Mexico, has fallen 158 feet in the last 22 years.
  • Both lakes are half empty; scientists have calculated they will never be full again.
  • Millions of people in the U.S. are at risk of having decreased electricity and water
  • Drought can cause long-term problems for  the planet including: shortages of drinking water, poor quality drinking water, worsened air quality, worsened sanitation and hygiene conditions and therefore an increased amount of disease, and a shortage of food, which will bring poor nutrition and poor nutrition related disease.
  • The three longest drought episodes in U.S. recorded history were during the 1930’s, the 1950’s, and the drought we are experiencing now.
  • An estimated 55 million people globally are affected by droughts every year, and drought is the most serious hazard to livestock and crops in nearly every part of the world
  • Droughts represent 15% of natural disasters worldwide but have directly caused 650,000 deaths in recent years.
  • By 2030, an estimated 700 million people will be displaced by drought.
  • By 2050 droughts may affect over 75% of the world’s population.

Drought in Colorado


Drought in Texas


Drought in California


U.S. Farm Drought


Colorado River Drought


Climate Change & Drought


More information at these websites:


U.S. Drought Monitor

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA


National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center


U.S. Department of Agriculture Weather and Drought Monitor


Food Facts: How Much Water Does it Take to Produce ….?